That title is sarcasm…I know what a macro is. You know a macronutrient? Protein, fat and carbs. The three nutrients that make up ALL the calories you eat. You know, what you should be tracking if you want to lose some weight and change your body composition to have more muscle and less body fat?
Yup those macros.
Well, I have done plenty of tracking macros over the past nearly two years. From June of last year (2016) until mid March of this year (2017) I tracked everything I ate except for 8 days. I tracked the 5000 calorie days. I tracked the beer. I tracked the whiskey. I tracked the Rumplemintz shots. I didn’t forget anything. I committed to my goal and I thought I followed through on it pretty well.
Guess what happened? Well, I saw pretty cool results that wouldn’t have happened without my religious tracking. Besides trying to gain around 10lbs of muscle I was also trying to set an example to my clients and anyone else who reads my content. You see, I could probably not workout for a year and not gain weight. My body composition would definitely change, but I am lucky to not put on weight easily. So, my main reason for tracking every day was to prove a point.
It is possible for busy people to prioritize their nutrition and health. I have 40 clients. Most of them are busy adults with full time jobs or full time family lives with kids consuming much of their time. About 4 weeks of my last year were very extreme (I wouldn’t recommend being that extreme), but the other 8 months were an example dedication, hard work and consistency. Three things you need to have a lot of to sustain weight loss when you are busy and three things I see lacking in many people. Remember there is no magic cleanse. You will have to work harder than 2 weeks if you really want to keep the weight off.
Anyone know this movie?
Back in 2015 I thought I knew what it took to get to the level of leanness I wanted. I was wrong. Pretty far off actually. I was lacking one thing…food self awareness…and the only thing that was going to teach me that was tracking my food daily. After 18 months of pretty consistent tracking, I am at a point that I don’t need to meticulously track everything I eat to maintain my current body composition. But, it took me 18 months to get there. Are you ready to make that sacrifice?
I have worked with a few hundred people over the past 4 years and I can think of 2-3 people who lost the weight that made them happy and were able to sustain it…WITHOUT tracking their macros. Everyone else would tell you one of two things. Either “tracking my macros daily was the biggest reason I lost and sustained the weight I wanted,” OR “if I would have been more consistent tracking I would have reached my goals.” It’s up to you, do you want go with the odds or try to be the 0.5% who was successful not tracking?
I understand the aversion to tracking food to some degree. It doesn’t seem “natural.” Or maybe seems “obsessive” or “anti social.” But, if you truly are at a point in your life where you are frustrated with your weight and health that “unnatural habit” of tracking your macros won’t feel so “unnatural” when you see amazing results. But, if you aren’t ready to track for 6-18 months you are aren’t really ready to sustain the weight your want to lose. I have a couple clients who have worked with me for over 2 years and just started tracking their macros recently! It is never too late to give something a shot that is out of your comfort zone.
So, I tried to prove one point about a LONGTERM dedication to your nutrition. Now, I am going to try and prove another point 🙂
That, after gaining “food self awareness” you DON’T need to track your macros to sustain your results. Remember, I think gaining true “food self awareness” will take up to 18 months of consistent tracking. By gaining true “food self awareness” you will know what real portion sizes are for YOU and your goals, not just what the box of granola says is a serving. You will know when to eat more carbs, when to eat less carbs, if you are eating enough protein to retain the muscle you are building in the weight room and how much alcohol is OK to have without sabotaging your results. Are you ready for that sacrifice?
For the next year I am not tracking my food intake one day. I am also not weighing myself once or measuring my body fat levels. I am taking a break from the numbers and I am going to go off feel and how I look. I know what 14% body fat feels and looks like. I know what 12% is and 8% and 6%. I can gauge that in the mirror now. But, more importantly I know how to get to each of those levels by manipulating my nutrition. It took 18 months of time….a sacrifice well worth it. A few clients said “that is crazy how can you do that??” Well, because I need a break from tracking, have learned enough to feel comfortable taking a break from Myfitnesspal and honestly I need to set another example for those of you reading this 🙂
I measure my progress in a few ways. Can I see my abs on most days, have I lost upper body muscle, can I still bench 185lbs easily, can I still squat 275lb easily and can I do a 20-30 minute HIIT cardio workout without puking. If I can do all of things after a year I will be happy.
I am in “coast” mode for a year. I have a few fitness goals, but if I don’t eat any protein over a long 3 day weekend in the Dells I won’t be mad. This is part of sustaining your weight loss or body composition changes for your entire life. You must have periods of time of 3-6 months or maybe longer, where you aren’t stressing about the numbers. Keep your habits, relax, get stronger, run some 5ks or something along those lines and enjoy life. Weight loss is stressful and not fun. Make a BIG sacrifice for 18 months and lose the weight you want to lose instead of being stuck in a 30 year cycle of “I am still not at my goal weight because I never was willing to track my macros for long enough.”
This is my plan for the next year as long as I don’t hurt (fingers crossed as I now pay for my own health insurance!!):
- As vain as my “abs” measurement is, it is a very good indicator of my nutrition and how I want to be eating most days. If I feel bloated I will simply eat fewer carbs the next day. It is also an indicator how much sodium I have in my diet.
- If I feel like I am losing upper body muscle I will simply program my next lifting phase to add in more upper body lifting.
- If I feel like my cardio sucks (like now) I will add in more HIIT cardio circuits.
- I will be “intuitively eating.” Eating more on days when I am exercising hard and less on days I am resting. I will generally eat when I am hungry, but within reason.
- Habits will stay the same, such as no alcohol Sunday-Thursday. No desserts Sunday-Thursday. Around 200g of protein per day (I add it up in my head). 2-3 cups of veggies at 2 meals per day. 2-3 servings of fruit per day. Around 125-150oz of water per day. Only 1-2 meals per week of eating out…everything else I will cook to control portion sizes. I will use my “food self awareness” to know what proper servings are without weighing and measuring my food…this took me 18 months to get good at.
- Workouts will be lifting based. I want to maintain how I look and feel. I will do some cardio HIIT workouts 2-3 times per week for 20-30 minutes. I am not worried about lifting any crazy heavy weights like I did last year with my 400lb deadlift, but don’t want to lose much strength or muscle.
I am in maintenance mode and ready to enjoy some things in life that I might have missed the past 18 months because nutrition was my main priority 24/7. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being obsessed over your nutrition for a 6-18 month window if it means you can lose 50lbs and keep it off the rest of your life.
How do you know when you are ready for “coast” mode? When you are burned out or getting close to getting burned out with the stresses of trying to lose weight…it will happen to everyone, trust me. Or, when you are happy with how you look and feel! I just hope you have tracked your food intake long enough to sustain your results.